Foreign relations of Namibia
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
- 1 International organizations
- 2 International disputes
- 3 Bilateral relations
- 3.1 Angola
- 3.2 Botswana
- 3.3 Canada
- 3.4 People's Republic of China
- 3.5 Cuba
- 3.6 Democratic Republic of the Congo
- 3.7 Ethiopia
- 3.8 Finland
- 3.9 Germany
- 3.10 India
- 3.11 Israel
- 3.12 Liberia
- 3.13 Macedonia
- 3.14 Malaysia
- 3.15 Palestinian territories
- 3.16 Russia
- 3.17 South Africa
- 3.18 Spain
- 3.19 Sweden
- 3.20 United States
- 3.21 Zimbabwe
- 3.22 Zambia
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes and references
With a small army and a fragile economy, the Namibian Government's principal foreign policy concern is developing strengthened ties within the Southern African region. A dynamic member of the Southern African Development Community, Namibia is a vocal advocate for greater regional integration.
- Commission established with Botswana to resolve small residual disputes along the Caprivi Strip, including the Situngu marshlands along the Linyanti River
- Botswana residents protest Namibia's planned construction of the Okavango hydroelectric dam on Popa Falls
- Managed dispute with South Africa over the location of the boundary in the Orange River
- Dormant dispute remains where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe boundaries converge
- Angolan rebels and refugees still reside in Namibia.
In 1999 Namibia signed a mutual defence pact with its northern neighbour Angola. This affected the Angolan Civil War that has been ongoing since Angola's independence in 1975. Namibias ruling party SWAPO wanted to support the ruling party MPLA in Angola to fight the rebel movement UNITA, whose stronghold is in southern Angola, bordering to Namibia. The defence pact allowed Angolan troops to use Namibian territory when attacking UNITA.
The alliance between SWAPO and MPLA has deep roots and began as both Angola's and Namibia's ruling parties sought independence during the mid twentieth century and into the Angolan Civil War. In Angola, the leftist movement MPLA was fighting the rightist movement UNITA, which was supported by South Africa. In Namibia, SWAPO, then being a rebel movement, was fighting for independence from South Africa along the Angolan border. Angola allowed SWAPO to establish training and refugee camps for Namibians and PLAN (People's Liberation Army of Namibia) fighters. As MPLA and SWAPO shared a common ideological ground, and had a common enemy in South Africa, they came to cooperate.
The Angolan civil war resulted in a large number of Angolan refugees coming to Namibia. At its peak in 2001 there were over 30,000 Angolan refugees in Namibia. The calmer situation in Angola has made it possible for many of them to return to their home with the help of UNHCR, and in 2004 only 12,600 remained in Namibia.  Most of them reside in the refugee camp Osire north of Windhoek.
Botswana–Namibia relations are friendly, with the two neighboring countries cooperating on economic development. Botswana gained independence from Britain in September 1966. Namibia gained independence from South Africa in 1990 following the Namibian War of Independence. Botswana has a high commission in Windhoek. Namibia has a high commission in Gaborone.
Canada's relationship with Namibia began in 1977 when Canada joined the Western Contact Group, a joint diplomatic effort of France, United Kingdom, United States, Canada and West Germany to bring an internationally acceptable transition to independence for Namibia. In 1990 official relations started; Canada has dispatched a Honorary Consul to Windhoek.
Canada is one of the main destinations for Namibian refugees. Together with Botswana and Denmark, Canada has been granting asylum to people fleeing Namibia in the aftermath of the Caprivi conflict, and particularly the Caprivi treason trial that followed in which the Namibian government was accused of human rights violations. Only in 2010 Canada has changed its standpoint and is now considering the CLA to be a terrorist organisation that has "attempted to usurp an elected government". Nonetheless, Canada received a steady inflow of Namibian immigrants who seek economic betterment under the pretense of humiliation and harassment in Namibia. In 2011 more than 1,000 Namibians entered Canada. Three quarters of them applied for refugee status, but only a few were successful.
People's Republic of China
Governmental relations were first established the day after Namibia's independence, but relations with Namibian independence movements date back to the 1960s. China and Namibia have developed close economic relations, with trade increasing twofold between the two countries from 2003-2006. During a February 2007 visit, Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged Namibia "RMB 1 billion of concessional loans, 100 million US dollars of preferential export buyer's credit, RMB 30 million yuan of grants and RMB 30 million of interest-free loans..."
Cuban-Namibian relations date back to the Namibian War of Independence when Cuba politically, militarily and diplomatically supported the Namibian rebel organization and future ruling party, South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) against the military of Apartheid South Africa. Since independence, Namibia and Cuba have held joint meetings every two years for Economic, Scientific-Technical and Commercial Cooperation. In 2005, it was reported that 1,460 Cuban professionals had worked in Namibia, including 208 in 2005.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Along with numerous other African nations, Namibia intervened in the Second Congo War, sending troops in support of the Democratic Republic of Congo's president Laurent-Désiré Kabila. It is not clear why Namibia intervened in the conflict, although it has been suggested that Namibia was interested in Congo's natural resources, especially copper. Namibia's decision to join the conflict resulted in criticism from opposition parties, the public, as well as from within the ruling party SWAPO.
Namibia maintains an embassy in Addis Ababa. During the South African occupation of Namibia, Ethiopia was one of the country's leading proponents abroad; Ethiopia and Liberia were the first two states to bring the question of independence for then South West Africa to the United Nations.
In 2007, the two governments signed an agreement which expanded air travel between the two states. In December 2009, Namibia's Foreign Minister, Marko Hausiku met with Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Seyoum Mesfin and noted the economic, science, technical and cultural agreements in place between the two countries and expressed a desire to improve the trade relations.
Finland recognised Namibia on 21 March 1990. Both countries established diplomatic relations on the same day. Namibia is represented in Finland through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. Finland has an embassy in Windhoek and an honorary consulate in Walvis Bay.
Finland has stated it is a staunch supporter of Namibian independence. The Finnish Government has provided assistance in the sectors of forestry, water, environment and health. Namibia’s exports to Finland increased from N$810 million in 2004 to over N$1 billion (approximately 90 million EUR) in 2007.
First contacts between people of the two countries took place when German missionaries were hired by the London Missionary Society to commence working in Southern Namibia during the late 18th and early 19th century. In the 1880s the German Empire came to what is now Namibia as a colonizing power, creating German South-West Africa. The German colonial rule was marked by tensions and led to the genocide of the Herero and Namaqua people from 1904-1907, which resulted in the deaths of 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero population), and 10,000 Nama (50% of the total Nama population). The colony was ruled by Germany until 1915 when it was conquered by troops from the Union of South Africa.
During South African rule, German was one of the two official languages of Namibia, the other being Afrikaans. Likewise during Apartheid rule, West Germany maintained a consulate in Windhoek despite United Nations resolutions calling for the isolation of South Africa.
Namibian independence in 1990 coincided with German reunification, resulting in an initially slow development of diplomatic relations. However, in both 1989 and 2004 the German government acknowledged its responsibility for Namibia as a priority partner country. Since then German Development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul visited Namibia, asking the country for forgiveness of the past. Today, not least due to substantially improved co-operation and exchange, as well as by fate of the permanent presence of the "German tribe in Namibia", the two countries have mostly learnt to a new dialogue, which at times also still stagnates.
Relations began between SWAPO and the Indian government prior to independence. In 2010, relations were described by Indian officials as "warm and cordial". India has been involved in training the Namibian Air Force and bilateral trade in 2008-09 stood at $80 million.
In 1960, Liberia and Ethiopia brought litigation against apartheid South Africa in the International Court of Justice to end its illegal occupation of Namibia. As part of Liberia's support for Namibia's liberation struggle, many Namibian students received Liberian passports which helped them study abroad.
As of July 2008, a total of 5,900 Namibia Defence Force troops had been rotated through Liberia as part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Namibia maintained a battalion of about 800 personnel in Grand Cape Mount county for several years, for most of the period part of UNMIL Sector 2, headquartered at Tubmanburg. In May 2005, Namibian troops were accused of sexual exploitation of young girls and women; three Namibian soldiers were sent home from the force after a United Nations investigation found them guilty of "engaging in sexual activity with civilians", which is against United Nations rules for peacekeepers.
On 21 December 2011 Macedonia and Namibia established diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level when the Ambassadors of both countries to the UN, Pajo Avirovic and Wilfried Emvula respectively, signed the joint communiqué. With the establishment of diplomatic relations, Namibia recognised Macedonia under its constitutional name the 'Republic of Macedonia' as opposed to its provisional name the 'former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia'; in doing so Namibia became the 133 country to recognise Macedonia's constitutional name.
Both countries were once part of the British Empire and before Namibia achieved its independence, Malaysia has contributed to some operations in Namibia by sending a group of soldiers to help monitor the Namibia elections and peace process. Today, the relations are much more focused in economic cooperation.
Namibia has an embassy to Russia in Moscow and Russia has an embassy to Namibia in Windhoek. Relations between Namibia and Russia were considered "excellent" in 2006 by then-Namibian Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba, while Russia expressed a desire for even stronger relations, particularly in the economic field. Also in 2006, the Namibia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation was officially opened during a visit by Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev to Windhoek. During said visit, the Minister said Russia was interested in investing in oil, hydro-electric power and tourism. In 2007, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov held discussions with Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Nahas Angula and President Hifikepunye Pohamba in regards to the possibility of developing Namibia's significant uranium deposits with an aim towards creating a nuclear power plant in the country. In 2008, Trutnev returned to Namibia, this time to Swakopmund, to meet at the third annual Intergovernmental Commission. Top foreign ministry official Marco Hausiku and his deputy Lempy Lucas represented Namibia in discussions with Trutnev.
Upon independence in 1990, Namibia's economy was still tied to South Africa's. To this day, the economy of Namibia is still closely contacted to South Africa through both institutional relationships (Southern African Customs Union, for example) and privately owned mining concessions. The South African rand is still legal currency within Namibia, while the Namibian dollar is not so in South Africa and the currencies are traded on par locally.
Spain maintains an embassy in Namibia. As of October 2010, the Spanish ambassador to Namibia was Alfonso Barnuevo. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2010 on expanding relations. Under the agreement, fisheries, infrastructure development, education and health will be the focus of developing relations.
Sweden was one of the primary supporters of the Namibian independence movement during South African occupation. It continued development aid after independence.
U.S.-Namibian relations are good and continue to improve. Characterized by shared democratic values, commitment to rule of law, and respect for human rights, the bilateral relationship has been strengthened through trade ties and U.S. assistance programs. Namibia has seized opportunities created by AGOA. Currently the SACU countries and the U.S. are negotiating a Trade, Investment and Development Cooperation Agreement, scheduled to be signed in 2008. Namibia has been included in President Bush's International Mother and Child HIV Initiative and the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) bilateral presence in Namibia has been extended until 2010. In addition to the Embassy, the Centers for Disease Control, Peace Corps, and the United States Department of Defense have offices in Windhoek. Namibia is also in the process of negotiating a Compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation with a target signing date of mid-2008.
The ruling parties of Namibia (since independence in 1990) and Zimbabwe (since independence in 1980) have been close since pre-independence days, as both were anti-colonial movements against white-minority governments. Namibia sent troops in the Namibia Defence Force to the Democratic Republic of the Congo alongside Zimbabwe in a SADC coalition to support President Joseph Kabila.
Notes and references
- "CIA - The World Factbook - Namibia". CIA. Retrieved 9 November 2006.
- William, Vincent. "Namibia: Situation Report". United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
- "2004 UNHCR Statistical Yearbook - Namibia". United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
- "Botswana High Commission Website in Namibia". Botswana Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- "Namibia Embassy in Botswana". Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- Canada-Namibia relations Foreign Ministry of Canada
- Inambao, Chrispin (1 September 2004). "No Title". New Era.
- Muraranganda, Elvis (February 2012). "The greak trek". insight Namibia.
- Interpretation of China-Namibia Relations in Foreign Ministry of the People's Republic of China
- Cuba-Namibia Joint Commission Meeting Kicks off in Havana, Radio Habana, Cuba, 5 July 2005
- The South West Africa/Namibia dispute by John Dugard
- Ethiopia, Namibia sign air transport agreement
- Ethiopia, Namibia working out to step up cooperation areas
- Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland about Namibia
- http://www.klausdierks.com/Biographies/Biographies_E.htm Ebner, Johann Leonhard
- Indo-Namibian Relations Ministry of External Affairs of India, September 2010
- Liberia, Namibia Sign Agreement aimed at Strengthening Bilateral Relations NewLiberian.com, 15 July 2008
- Liberia and Namibia to trade more The Namibian, 15 July 2008
- NDF to probe Liberia sex scandal The Namibian, 26 May 2005
- "Namibia and Macedonia Establish Diplomatic Ties under Constitutional name". 21 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- Emmanuel Ike Udogu (2012). Liberating Namibia: The Long Diplomatic Struggle Between the United Nations and South Africa. McFarland. pp. 185–. ISBN 978-0-7864-6576-7.
- "Namibia/Palestine sign agriculture MoU". New Era. 2 July 2012.
- Russia urges more trade with mineral-rich Namibia People's Daily, 28 July 2006
- Russia, Namibia in nuke talks Fin24.com, 18 March 2007
- Russian minist in trade talks with Nam[dead link] The Namibian, 28 November 2008
- In Namibia, South African Is Center of Attention, New York Times, 23 March 1990
- Namibia - Economy
- Namibia, Spain sign protocol on politics New Era, 18 October 2010
- Zimbabwe heaps praise on Swapo's transition effort by Tangeni Amupadhi, The Namibian, 3 June 2004
- Namibia and Zimbabwe - the second liberation by Henning Melber, pambazuka.org, 13 May 2008
- "Background Note: Namibia". U.S. Department of State.